For a man who’s retired, Philip Roth is still oddly present in the literary world. Ever since he announced his intention to quit writing, he’s made a stream of public appearances, including an awards ceremony at Yaddo one week after claiming he’d never appear on stage again. So what gives? In The Baffler, J.C. Hallman explains why writers can never really quit, in a piece that nicely complements our own take on literary retirement. FYI, Hallman has written for us.
Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, died today at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his publisher. Pirsig's work explored a system of thought called the "Metaphysics of Quality," which has been defined as "a thesis that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought."
Esquire offers up a terrific time sink, "The 7 Greatest Stories in the History of Esquire Magazine." Included among these gems of long-form journalism, which are all reprinted in full, is Richard Ben Cramer's "What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?" which appeared on the list of best sports journalism we ran last month.Not long ago, we discussed the books that first stoked our love for reading. The Guardian takes it one step further, asking "What were your favourite books before you could read?"A brief YouTube profile of Annette Gordon-Reed, National Book Award winner for The Hemingses of Monticello.From The Morning News, a slightly insane, moderately epic profile of Dmitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir.Also from The Morning News, a bit about The Chicagoan, the long-lost New Yorker-esque magazine for the Second City, now memorialized in coffee-table book form. If ever any cities (besides New York of course) could be granted New Yorker-like magazines, Chicago and Los Angeles would be deserving. BoingBoing points to some pdf excerpts of the book.Poll watching savant Nate Silver takes execrable rabble-rouser John Ziegler to task for a dubious survey of Obama supporters. Petulance ensues.
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It’s a catchy idea: two rich Philadelphians, shut out of their family fortune, decide to gain new wealth by proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. It’s the plot of At the Water’s Edge, the new book by Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen. Robert J. Wiersema reviewed the book in The Globe and Mail. Sample quote: “In most families, fleeing to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster would seem an odd thing to do in order to expiate a social faux pas and redeem the family honour, but the Hydes aren’t most families.”
“Adrianne [Lobel] suspects that there’s another dimension to the series’s sustained popularity. Frog and Toad are ‘of the same sex, and they love each other,’ she told me. ‘It was quite ahead of its time in that respect.’ In 1974, four years after the first book in the series was published, [Arnold] Lobel came out to his family as gay.” On love and Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad.
"While men weren’t looking, women built a genre that tackles love, sex, pleasure, class, money, feminism, masculinity, and equality." Jamie Green writes for Buzzfeed about how romance novels have gotten more feminist over the years (and still getting a happily ever after) and people are now starting to sit up and take notice.